What is Unintentional Music?

I was a singer before moving to Zürich, Switzerland to study Process Work. My teachers there always encouraged me to apply Process Work to music. That led me to develop Unintentional Music.

Whenever we play or sing (or paint or write poetry or dance, etc.) we intend to do it a certain way. Even if we are doing free improvisation, we’re intending to be free and spontaneous. But some things happen that fall outside of our intention.

The unintentional aspects of the music we make – the rote improvisation, the unwanted note, the cracked voice, the strange croaking sound we try to avoid, or the rhythmic problem we cannot erase even after hours of practice – contain more wisdom than we might think. The same is true for the unexpected splash of color on the canvas, the ungraceful turn on the dance floor, or the writer’s block that makes us pull out our hair. They are intimations of parts of ourselves, and of our music and art, that lie beyond our awareness.

Exploring the unintentional with curiosity and love can help us to tap into the wellsprings of our deepest creativity, and make our music, our art, and ultimately our lives, more authentic, meaningful, and original.

Unintentional Music works with people as they are making music (or art). It unfolds the mistakes, the things we don’t like, and the things we’re not aware we’re doing. It works with what’s happening in our body, including physical symptoms that are caused by (or that block us from) playing. It addresses our belief systems, stretching us beyond what we think we should do, beyond who we think we are. It helps us get past (and grow from) creative blocks. It gets us in touch with parts of ourselves that have their own ways of playing, singing, creating, expressing, and living.

This all helps us to:

  • Make our music and art more original and vital.
  • Unlock our deepest creativity.
  • Express ourselves more fully and authentically.
  • Tap into the source of inspiration.
  • Transform our fear.
  • Open our ears to an inner guide.

Please check out my book, and take a moment to read the Introduction. This website has a “chapter of the month,” so feel free to come back each month and, in time, read the whole book. Or just experience the chapter that’s featured this month. You can buy the book here. Each chapter has an exercise that you can try on your own. Enjoy!

I’ve practiced and taught this work around the world, helping thousands of professional and amateur musicians, singers, dancers, painters, sculptors, actors, performance artists, writers, poets, and artists of all kinds to become more creative, expressive and authentic. I’ve also helped many so-called “tone-deaf,” “non-musical,” and non-artistic people to discover their own unique musical/creative expression and joy.

Magdalena Schatzmann, an incredibly talented musician and music pedagogue, studied with me intensively over a period of years. She now practices and teaches Unintentional Music in Switzerland and Germany. Magdalena wrote a beautiful manuscript about using Unintentional Music with music pedagogy.

Unintentional Music brought me together with Clare Hill, with whom I led seminars for the British Stammering Association, working with adults who stutter. Our work helped them to find meaning in – and sometimes relief from – their speech difficulties. You can listen to us discussing this cutting edge work here.

Over the years, participants in my workshops have written diploma theses about the applications of UM to music therapy and Eurhythmy.